The pants that got away… and an email to remind me

First of all, new layout! I know the previous one was only up for a month, but my amazingly talented sister (FOLLOW HER ON INSTAGRAM!) drew this beautiful illustration at just the right time. I fell out of love with the last layout rather quickly; it lacked personality and made my site look a little too drab, I later realized. So when Baaj emailed me this adorable and Rafia-esque illustration, I didn’t care that I physically felt like death, the new layout was going up ASAP!

Look at it. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I am not ashamed to say that because I did not make it ;)

So, what’s this whole business about pants, you ask? I guess you could say that I change my layouts as often as I change my pants. Har-dee-har-dee-har.

Okay, that analogy was a forced attempt to string together what will be a rather haphazard post. But bear with me. The layout and pants do have some sort of connection, which I will attempt to explain presently. Because along with this new and beautiful header image, my sister also sent me this pic from July 2012.

Me and my little nephew – The Nizmaster – at Gairloch Gardens in Oakville, Ontario.

This must have been a few months before I stopped wearing pants completely, a three-year period of my past that still haunts me.

If this is not the first blog post of mine you’ve read, then you’d know that I’ve started wearing pants again. “Whoop-dee-doo! Rafia, you really weren’t exaggerating when you say you always make a mountain out of a molehill. But this is a bit much, even for you,” I can hear your thoughts loud and clear.

See, my decision to stop wearing pants was made out of fear and being pants-shamed (it’s a thing, at least among Muslims). One comment from a parent at the Islamic School I used to work at is what triggered, what I can finally call in retrospect, an entire negation of my sense of self. I stopped wearing pants – that was the external. But I also stopped listening to music, I stopped singing, I stopped eating sugar around this time, too. In essence, I stopped being myself.

I look at this photo now and am angry at myself for allowing that woman to enter my mind and convince me that I ever dressed immodestly. Her actual words were “Haraam dressing,” which made me feel like I was committing a sin for wearing pants.

Though thankfully I eventually left that toxic environment – it literally took a seizure for me to make that much-needed change in my life – I still encounter this warped kind of thinking occasionally. Her words have stayed with me unconsciously ever since.

No more. It’s been about a year since I’ve started wearing pants again, but it’s been a slow process. This photo emboldens me to start wearing them metaphorically as well. In a mad dash, I made it my Whatsapp profile, uploaded it on IG. It moved me so much that I had to blog about it.

So, yes. Thanks, Baaj – for this new layout and for the photo. My sister is a catalyst for positive change! See? It all came together ;)

17 thoughts on “The pants that got away… and an email to remind me

  1. MashaAllah, she really is! Thank you. I’m blessed to have her as a sister. I picked up so much from her, being her “shadow.” She’s been drawing all her life. Recently, she’s been freelancing and partnering up with female Canadian Muslim vendors. One of her prints was sent to PM Justin Trudeau in a greeting card!

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  2. Firstly – I LOVE the illustration! I can only doodle. Flowers and odd shapes. And smiley faces. Emojis. Basically nothing lulz. ALSO. Omg. You know I didnt know this pant shaming thing existed until just a few days ago?! I have never encountered it in my life and to say I was taken aback is a gross understatement. What do you even say to something like that? (genuinely asking, not a rhetorical question). Sigh.

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  3. Well, I do plan on making her my illustrator for the children’s book I’ve been wanting to write! :) I’ll ask. She’s a huge fan of Wonder Woman and, as a mother of boys, she’s definitely more of a superhero fan than I currently am. Do you have any writers in mind? ;)

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  4. I hope it wasn’t directed at you? This incident of pant-shaming was the first time I had ever experienced it, as well. Actually first and only, but it was such a damning judgement, I heard those words every time I even thought of wearing pants. I didn’t say anything, as the lady emailed the principal, informing her of certain members of her female staff and their haraam dressing. The principal called me into her office and told me. So I couldn’t confront her. But I doubt I would have even if she said it to my face. Knowing me, I would have apologized and then later cried. I ended up donating every single pants I owned later.

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  5. A children’s book is a great idea. I’ve seen a few written by Muslim authors and they are generally well received. I would definitely buy your book for my little nephews and nieces.

    One of the projects I’m involved in is to actually create an outlet that would put in touch Muslim illustrators and writers. The comic genre is huge and Muslims (especially in North America) are desperate to get into it. Often though the problem is how do you bring the talent and the ideas together. Hence why we’ve been working on a way of bringing them together.

    I’ll keep you posted on it. Your sister is exactly the kind of talent that needs to be advertised. She is super talented Mashallah.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well, mine is about a purple polka dotted cow, named Petunia. It’s not Islamic per se, but it’ll be a story of friendship and personal empowerment.

    That’s so amazing! That’s exactly the problem we both have. How to get into the world where the work is actually being done. Should I have my sis get in touch with you? Please do keep me posted! This is an amazing initiative!!

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  7. Please do give her my email so she can get in touch with me. If you both know any other Muslim illustrators can you pass the word around? We need to create ways of networking among ourselves before we can go and venture into the world.


  8. Love the illustration :) And also glad to know you are wearing pants again. I do not want to go into the shaming part but *hugs* :)


  9. I just sent her your email. I feel like an idiot for asking, but is Jay Enders your name? I don’t want to presume either way! Online aliases are cool with me, but my sister is not a blogger ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It was directed at me but my incident was a bit different to yours. I was so offended, God. Lol. But I can’t believe you had to go through that. You can’t honestly have believed her words that easily. Don’t belittle the knowledge and intentions you have just due to someone else’s misinformed judgements. It honestly boils my blood – the number of “religious” people that are out there but are so narrow minded & don’t truly know anything at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My drastic change didn’t happen overnight. It was just a toxic environment to be in. So many comments I received. It broke me down. I didn’t have the self-assurance to ignore these voices at the time. I so wish I did. But I just read your latest post! I LOVED it. You go, girl! I hope you stood up for yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

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